2017 Summer Season Announced

Identity Unmasked

Identity Unmasked

When surrounded by ageless and immovable peaks, one is afforded the opportunity to explore and reconnect with the outdoors. For many of us, these rites define the summer season. Artists of the Romantic Period (and we’re all Romantics, right?) were drawn to mountains, finding themselves in awe of the landscape and yet seemingly insignificant when confronted with the forces required to create such terrain; these feelings, summarily expressed as The Sublime, came to articulate the entirety of their artistic movement. Romantics observed that when in Sublime environs – as we find ourselves in Crested Butte– new understanding of one’s identity emerges.

Identity has become a popular word to fling around (see graph). According to the great and powerful Google, use of the word has grown explosively since the 1960s (certainly not surprising as an entire generation turned to its best friend: “I”). Today, identity frequently appears in headlines: “The 2016 Presidential Election is a Fight Over America’s Identity”; “Identity theft hit an all-time high in 2016” (someone can steal your identity?). On official forms, you can choose to identify however you feel is appropriate. Even celestial bodies are having identity crises; Pluto can’t seem to decide how it wants to be categorized.

Of course, identity is not new to dialectic; The Law of Identity is the first of the three classical laws of thought. In music, composers have seemingly always been communicating personal beliefs, relationships with others, and self-identity through their works. This season, CBMF will use that self-exploration as a starting point for its own consideration of identity in the music gestalt. CBMF’s 21st Season, entitled “Identity Unmasked,” will explore identity and its revelation or masking.


Examples include:

  • The Opera Studio (which received over 550 applications for 13 positions) presents a comedic double-bill of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Offenbach’s L’île de Tulipatan; both feature manipulation of identity (impersonating and mistaken) as key plot points.
  • The world’s preeminent fiddler, Mark O’Connor, reframes the idea of band as family as he performs with his actual family (and 2017 Grammy winners), The O’Connor Band (June 28-29).
  • The CBMF Symphony’s performance on July 20, entitled, The Mothers of Identity, presents works in which Mother (whether birth, Earth, or country) directs a composer’s artistic identity. The featured work is Mozart’s masterpiece, Sinfonia Concertante, with new CBMF Co-Artistic Directors Emily + Erik Peterson as soloists.
  • On July 10, renowned flutist, arts advocate, and Renaissance woman Eugenia Zukerman will perform and read from her novels as she illustrates how a great artist’s multifaceted career is inexplicably tied to her self-identification as an artist.
  • International star ensemble Time for Three, now including CBMF favorite Charles Yang, shows that string players can be just as badass as a rock group, while being even more versatile (June 16).
  • Superstar confectioners Bryan Petroff and Douglas Quint, founders of Big Gay Ice Cream (rated the best ice cream parlour in the US), have redefined the identity of soft-serve ice cream; at CBMF this summer they serve their sweets to pair with musical offerings performed by sweethearts Peter Dugan, pianist, and Kara Dugan, vocalist (July 7).
  • The Voxare String Quartet expands the identity, volume, and scope of the string quartet, from classical ensemble to rock band (July 19) to film scorer (July 18).
  • Sound Hearth: Happy 80th! pays tribute to three newly christened octogenarian composers – Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and David Del Tredici – each of whom changed the course and identity of contemporary classical music (August 3).
  • BEERoque, a pairing of baroque concertos and beer, proves that classical symphony concerts can be more fun than those traditionally identified as stodgy and stuffy (July 8).
  • Gypsy jazz all-stars Frank Vignola, Olli Soikkeli, Vinny Raniolo, Jason Anick, and Nicki Parrott continue to develop the identity of hot club jazz and push its virtuosic boundaries (July 21-28).
  • Top troubadour Brendan James offers an avenue for self-reflection (July 22).
  • What musical genres are found at music festivals? Mariachi on the Rocks, a concert pairing one of Colorado’s most respected mariachi ensembles (Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra) with a local distiller, broadens that range.
  • Etc, etc. (Just typing this is making me excited for the summer!)


Masks, both as expression and concealment of identity, will play a prominent role in the CBMF season: this season’s gala, Paper Faces, will be a masked New Orleans party (Aug 1); famed NYC DJ Johnny Dynell (Elton John’s Oscar Party DJ) will have everyone dancing during the Masked Rave (June 24); and masks created by students at the Crested Butte Community School will adorn the perimeter of the tent throughout the season.

A discussion of identity is particularly appropriate to CBMF this summer as new Artistic Directors take the helm. Where is the festival headed? What will be its evolutionary path? You’ll have the best seats as the festival continues its development into one of the nation’s pre-eminent music festivals.

The English mathematician Boole (if you can remember back to 9th-grade maths) articulated through algebraic representation an aspect of identity as

x = y + z

Identity is this + that

Perhaps a more perfect description of CBMF’s identity would be x = a+b+c+… : CBMF is music + nature + dance + energy + emotion + friendship + growth + learning + … CBMF is special because it is so diverse and offers so many possibilities for self-exploration and growth. Framed by Crested Butte’s most perfectly Sublime context, CBMF 2017 is the perfect opportunity for you to develop further understanding of your identity.

Erik Peterson

Unmask the 2017 Season now:


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